G’town centre given reprieve

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The Makana Municipality in Grahamstown makes a U-turn on its decision to demolish the Makhanda Mall, which is constructed without approved building plans.

THE Makana Municipality in Grahamstown has made a U-turn on its decision to demolish the Makhanda Mall, which was constructed without approved building plans.

This comes after officials felt that instead of going to court to seek a demolition order, the matter should be resolved internally.

Last year, the council resolved to apply for a court order to demolish the mall belonging to Bril Properties, partly owned by Makana councillor Pierre Ranchhod.

Ranchhod said at the time they had done everything in their power to ensure they complied with municipal regulations but that their attempts had been ignored by the municipality.

At a council meeting on Tuesday, the DA raised a motion querying the progress on the resolution taken to demolish the mall.

In response, municipal legal services manager Nomandla Mbanjwa said there was no proof that plans had not been approved by the municipality, nor could it be established whether Bril Properties had complied when constructing the multimillion-rand mall.

“When I assumed my duties as legal manager, I was informed that there was a council resolution to apply for a court order for the demolition of Makhanda Mall.

“ I have not had sight of the said council resolution,” Mbanjwa told councillors in a report on Tuesday.

In an interview yesterday, Mbanjwa said she had found that due processes were not followed by municipal officials dealing with the company’s application, as there were no documents proving non-compliance by Bril Properties.

“I have found that some departments, like traffic for example, did not comment on the company’s application to build the mall, so we also did not follow processes as the municipality in this matter,” she said.

She also blamed officials who had since left Makana for not leaving proper documentation on the company’s application for the mall.

Mbanjwa said should Bril Properties be found to not have complied with all relevant municipal by-laws, it would be asked to pay a fine, if necessary.

In her report to the council, Mbanjwa said she agreed with the previous opinion from attorneys Smith Tabata that demolition was a drastic step.

“In pursuit of alternative dispute resolution . my view is that the local economic development department must scrutinise the building plans with other departments and send their findings to the applicant for compliance within a reasonable time,” she said.

Yesterday, Ranchhod declined to comment, saying they had not received any correspondence from Makana since last year.

“We are waiting for a court date so I cannot comment further on this matter. It is sub judice,” he said.

DA councillor Xolani Madyo, who raised the motion on the mall, said he was satisfied with the response from Mbanjwa in council.

“I am happy at the moment to wait for the proof that they will get from Bril Properties. We took this matter seriously because Ranchhod is a councillor and he must lead by example.

“We took a resolution as council and nothing happened after that,” he said.